The Welsh Labour Government are reducing business rate relief for Welsh retail and hospitality from 75% to 40%, whilst the UK Government continues to back businesses in England with the 75% rate relief. The First Minister has stated that this money is needed to ‘prop’ up public services, such as the NHS. The Welsh Labour Government receives a significant funding settlement from the UK Government, where Wales receives £1.20 to spend on public services for every £1 spent in England. The Welsh Labour Government has ample resources to fund public services, but they continue to fail to spend this money where it really matters, such as healthcare.
Instead, they waste money on unnecessary projects like increasing the number of politicians in the Senedd and the 20mph blanket policy, which together cost well over £140 million. The Welsh Government should support our local businesses by keeping rate relief at 75% and adequately fund health care services - it shouldn’t be an either/or. It is deeply saddening to hear that Wrexham businesses, who have diversified post-COVID-19 are now thinking about closure or considering moving across the border.
Worryingly, decreasing rate relief could also be the final nail in the coffin for many of our rural pubs who are grappling with rising energy and supply costs and are still bouncing back from COVID-19. In 2023, at least one pub shut per week in Wales and now coupled with the slashed rate relief, things will only get worse. As a former brewer, I am particularly proud of Wrexham’s successful brewing heritage. Pubs are the beating heart of our community and play a vital role in tackling loneliness and providing employment. They deserve to remain open and to keep thriving – not to be punished as a result of the Welsh Government’s failure to spend money where it really matters.
Sadly, this is the reality of Welsh Labour’s nonsensical policies and is a real example of what a UK Labour Government would deliver.